The 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) in Nigeria are heavily indebted to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) to the tune of N778.7 billion, raising fears that the high debt burden might worsen its abysmal failure to power the country efficiently. The Discos were sold electricity worth N1.08 trillion between January 2017 and December 2018 – a period of 24 months, but they were only able to pay back N301.3 billion to the NBET for the supplied electricity, leaving a deficit of about N778.7 billion. This is coming as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) would shortly begin a validation exercise on the current population of electricity consumers.
The validation, it was gathered, followed the March 31, 2019 deadline the regulator issued to Discos to conclude the customers’ enumeration exercise in their networks. According to a document sighted on the Discos’ payments to the NBET between January 2017 and December 2018, the total value of supply invoices the NBET issued the Discos was N1.08 trillion but the Discos reportedly paid only 28 per cent, amounting to N301.3 billion. On the average, the document noted that the Discos got about 3,555.78 megawatts (MW) of electricity from the national grid daily within the 24-month period under consideration.
The document showed that in 2017, the Discos paid a total of N137.33 billion of the invoices issued to them, with December of that year recording the lowest payment of N4.48 billion from only four Discos – Abuja, Eko, Enugu, and Ibadan. In 2018, they paid N165.40 billion of the supply invoices issued to them, with January that year recording the lowest payment of N6.09 billion from six Discos which included Abuja; Benin; Enugu; Jos; Port Harcourt and Yola. It added that the average percentage of payments from the Discos to the NBET in 2017 was 28 per cent, while that of 2018 was 29.